SANDRA HARRINGTON | ARTISAN
New Mexico Potters & Clay Artists
Working at the wheel helps me process my inner experiences of the external world. I like the line
& volume and form. I like the way an expanding wet pot exhales into a
quiet, still memory, waiting to be noticed and engaged.
I like the dank smell of clay. I like the cool feel of the earth. I like
to imagine challenging pot designs and to draw references from nature
and found objects. Of course, the best pots so often are the pots that
make themselves. I like that too. The possibilities are endless - ideas
are always turning and evolving.
Thank you for your interest in my work.
In 1987 I walked into the ceramics department
of the Ft. Bragg, NC, Community Arts Center and asked to learn pottery.
Bill, the head of the department, sized me up and agreed to teach me the
basics of throwing, trimming, and surface treatment. Bill taught form
through repetition, an offshoot of traditional Japanese method.
A year later, I walked into the ceramics department at the University
of North Carolina at Greensboro and asked about using the studio. Setsuya
Kotani was willing to discuss this possibility, but suggested I take a
course. I did. Kotani was interested in the process of creation and art,
the interplay between one's intuition, experience, & evolving skill. Students
were given complete freedom to explore individual inclinations on kick-wheels
and in a well-appointed glaze lab.
In 1996, while living on the Big Island of Hawaii and working as a children's
counselor, I met Charlotte Margolis. Charlotte had been a production potter
in Portland, Oregon, making her living at the Portland Saturday Market.
Charlotte opened her studio to me in exchange for chores. Charlotte was
a potter whose strict adherence to intention and execution reflected the
enduring influence of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Charlotte taught
me a great deal about technical detail and finish work.
Much of what I have learned about making pots has simply come from countless hours on the wheel, through trial and error, through reading, and wondering.
Firing has been another passage. My work as a student in the arts center and at the university was fired for me, in either electric or gas kilns. Other than having taken raku workshops, my only experience with firing kilns had been through my studio electric kiln.
In 2004, I jumped on the opportunity to fire with a community of pyromaniacs in Anagama kilns in Talpa and Tres Piedras, New Mexico. This group represents to me a new generation of potters who embrace risk and push the limits
of form and function. They inspire me to break the rules! Thank you John Bradford.
In 2009, with an enormous amount of anxiety & determination, sweat, and support
from my potter friends, especially Rebecca Verrill, I built my own
wood burning kiln on my land on the slopes of the Pina Bete foothills, outside the
Village of Questa.
Wood kilns are intense. My little kiln takes about 2 cords of wood to fire over a 30-hour cycle of continuous stoking, until we reach temperatures of 2300-2400 degrees. Two potters could fill and fire this kiln but it's not nearly as fun as 3 or 4!